Belarus is training and arming Afghan and Iraqi fighters to launch “terrorist” attacks against Europe, a one-time senior Belarussian politician now living in exile has claimed.
Quasi-Stalinist and Kremlin-adjacent Belarus has flown Afghan and Iraqi citizens who are veterans of the wars there, as well as planeloads of captured weapons to Europe and is giving them extra training in preparation for making attacks against European nations, according to alarming new claims from a Belarussian politician living in exile. If true, the claims would dramatically underline the threat of having a rogue state willing to engage in state-sponsored terrorism on Europe’s borders.
The news of the alleged attack plot comes from the former Belarussian ambassador and government minister Pavel Latushka, who served in the Lukashenko regime until 2019 but fled to Poland in 2020 for his own safety, as the Belarussian government cracked down on dissidents amid a contested ‘election’. Latushka is the leader of a ‘shadow government’ in exile which campaigns for a peaceful transition of power away from Alexander Lukashenko, the first and so far only president of Belarus since the end of the Soviet Union.
In comments to the EU Observer on Wednesday, Latushka said Lukashenko intended to create a humanitarian crisis on the EU-Belarus border, while simultaneously blaming Europe for their suffering on the world stage, an attempt to destabilise the European Union. This may not be such a far-fetched ambition for Belarus, perhaps, given the considerable damage done to European Union solidarity by the botched handling of the 2015 migrant crisis.
This, Latushka said, was akin to “Nazi-era propaganda”, creating a crisis in order to profit from it.
While these tactics have been observed on Europe’s eastern frontier for months, Latushka’s new claims surround what may amount to a planned armed insurrection organised by Belarus but acted out by veterans of Middle Eastern wars. He said:
The migration crisis is being used by Lukashenko to insert into EU territory people who have [military] experience and who additionally undertook training on Belarusian territory to realise terrorist acts… Iraqi citizens were trained [in Belarus], now they are training Afghans from the territory of Tajikistan, who have combat experience. Of course, it’s not dozens of people being trained, it’s units of individuals… They’re preparing clashes on the Belarus-EU border with the use of weapons.
According to reliable information. On the base of special forces in Opsa (village in Bélarus) has been prepared 2 groups from Iraq & Afghanistan with combat experience… Captured weapons from Afghanistan have already been delivered to Belarus by two IL-76 military aviation planes in early November.
While Poland has been the primary recipient of Belarussian-engineered mass migration in recent months, Latvia and Lithuania have also been targeted, and Lithuania warned this week that they have detected at least two dozen illegal migrants crossing into Europe have been identified as known terrorists.
So far, the former ambassador to Poland and France has not named sources or provided documentary evidence for his claims, stating that the people who smuggled the information to him faced the death penalty in Belarus for doing so, but nevertheless he said they were “sources high-up in Belarusian intelligence services”, EU Observer reported.
As things stand, Belarus is accused of flying in thousands of migrants from countries like Afghanistan directly to Minsk, where they are put on busses and driven to the EU’s borders and pushed into Europe, sometimes at gunpoint. Many of the migrants sent to the border arrive well equipped to do so, coming with bolt-croppers to cut through wire fences and axes to fell trees over the border-line to form makeshift bridges.
Poland, for their part, accuses Belarus of going further than merely equipping migrants to break into their country but in coaching them to appear before the cameras of the mainstream media as well. Amid the advice allegedly given to migrants in intercepted communications published by the Polish government are instructions to appear distressed and dishevelled, and to have children and the elderly at the front. Poland has also claimed that Belarussian soldiers themselves have cut fences.
Spokesman for the Polish government Stanisław Żaryn said on Wednesday that Poland had detected more migrant groups being prepared by Belarus to head to the border, reports Polsat News, and that new attacks may be planned to coincide with September 11th, Poland’s independence day.
Mr Żaryn also elaborated on Russia’s role in the attacks. Belarus is close to being a client state for Russia, and he said: “It is certainly more and more evident that Russia is entering the game both on the political, military and propaganda levels. These Russian fingerprints are more and more visible.”
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